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Tudor: The Family Story

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,538 ratings  ·  187 reviews
# Sunday Times Bestseller; BBC History Book of the Year; Daily Telegraph Book of the Year; History Today Book of the Year

In an epic narrative sweeping from 1437 to the first decade of the seventeenth century, Tudor: the Family Story traces the rise and rule of the Tudor dynasty. Brutal political instability dominated England during this infamous time, and Leanda de Lisle r
Hardcover, 539 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by PublicAffairs
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Sarah (Presto agitato)
There have been an awful lot of books, movies, and TV shows about the Tudors. Their cultural impression is larger than life. Events of historic importance certainly occurred during their reigns, probably most significantly the Protestant Reformation, but it is their colorful antics that make them memorable. Even the Plantagenets who preceded them, ruling for 331 years in contrast to a mere 118 for the Tudors, are much less prominent in public consciousness. Somehow the many wild tales of treache ...more
'Tudor: The Family Story' begins at the funeral procession of Catherine of Valois in 1437 in order to relate the origins of the Tudor name. Catherine and Owen Tudor's relationship is depicted as truly romantic. I had quite a chuckle or two as Ms. de Lisle showed she has a slightly ribald sense of humor : "There was music playing, and her servants were dancing. While Catherine watched, Owen performed a leap which span out of control, and he fell straight into her lap. As an Elizabethan poet asked ...more
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-english
In her look at the Tudor Dynasty, Ms. De Lisle has delivered a very reader friendly book. Starting with the Owen Tudor, Henry VII’s grandfather and who gave the dynasty its name, the author looks at the family that ruled England from 1485 thru the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. In telling their story Ms. De Lisle states to understand the Tudors, one must understand how they saw themselves.

This is not your standard history. The author just doesn’t look at the politics surrounding the family, but a
Pam Baddeley
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
An interesting book which takes the approach of going back to the earlier characters in the story of the Tudor family, starting with Owen Tudor who married the widowed Queen of France after a wild dance leap landed him in her lap! The book goes through each of the personnel, giving a good insight especially into the women who usually are background characters such as Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, and Margaret Douglas, daughter of Henry VIII's eldest sister and her second husband the Ea ...more
Disclaimer: Arc read via Netgalley. Thank you Netgalley, Perseus Books, and Public Affairs Books.

I can hear you asking the question – do we really need another book about the Tudors? Really. Well, I don’t know about need, but I can say this is a very excellent look at the Tudor family. If you were going to buy one book about the Tudor dynasty, this should be it. It’s not that I didn’t like Meyer’s book about the family, but de Lisle is just better.
In part, this is because she actually focuses o
For us Tudorphiles, there really isn’t anything we don’t already know about one of history’s most dramatic families. So what’s the point of reading another book on the Tudor dynasty? Perhaps this can be answered by Leanda de Lisle in “Tudor: The Family Story”.

Lisle’s version of events in “Tudor” stands out instantly, as the tone presented to the reader is not simply that of a recollection of Tudor monarchy life; but the basics and underlying psychosis of the family. Lisle begins the history back
Rio (Lynne)
Why read another a Tudor book? De Lisle takes on the family history from Owen Tudor to James I. This isn't another Henry and his wives book. De Lisle's NF books are not text bookish. They are easy to read and before you know it hours have gone by, she brought many new things to my attention (proof Margaret Beaufort wasn't the evil step mother, Henry VIII wanted 16 executors in charge of Edward, was Mary Queen of Scots raped?) I consider myself very informed on the Tudors and I thoroughly enjoyed ...more
I've read a good number of books on the Tudors. It's my favorite period of history.

This book is extremely thoroughly reasearched and presents events in an unbiased manner. This is important because I've read enough books on the Tudors that have been slightly compromised due to an author's opinion being forced on the reader. It's frankly annoying when that happens and De Lisle refrained from making this mistake.

She had a bit of a wry sense of humor which I appreciate. Just enough to make it enter
Helen Carolan
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing new in this one but an interesting and entertaining read none the less. My only gripe with this one just like most books about the Tudors is the lesser known family members get shoved to the sidelines and barely get a mention.
Jun 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leanda de Lisle has a gift for writing historical books. When the history is as compelling as that of the Tudors, no embellishment is needed, and de Lisle tells the story masterfully. This book is impeccably researched, and de Lisle backs up everything she says with primary sources, which she then uses to debunk a lot of popular myths and misconceptions that have sprung up around the Tudors.

The great thing about this book is its broad scope, and de Lisle manages to weave a coherent story of five
Jo Barton
Oct 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love all things Tudor and despite having many historical factual books about the Tudors already sitting on my bookshelf, there is always room for one more.

Leanda De Lisle has created a very readable account of this fascinating family and provides the facts in an easy to understand, and very enjoyable manner. The founding of this tumultuous dynasty was fraught with danger and political upheaval, all of which is expertly explored in well divided sections. The story starts in 1437, with the conte
I loved it. Now I am not a fan of Henry Tudor (being a bit of a Ricardian), however, I was impressed with Leanda's documenting of the origins of the Tudor Monarchs of England (not to be confused by their ancient Welsh counterparts). I was especially impressed with the retelling of Margaret Beaufort's story - she is such a feisty women who was determined to shape her future, and that of her son, as best she could given the mores of the time.

I would recommend this as a welcome and insightful addi
Josie (bookandscone)
Everything you need to know about the Tudors in a nutshell (well, roughly 500 pages). Nevertheless this book is absolutely fascinating, sparks your interest and after reading this you'll end up with an entire shelf of Tudor history books in no time (trust me).

The story begins way before the notorious Henry VIII (whom we all know and don't love); with Owen Tudor. I was thrilled to find in depth account of current political climate of England - The War of the Roses, the lost Princes, it enables y
You'd think there would be nothing much left to say about the Tudors after 500 years or so. We know so much about Henry VIII and his children, and how the struggle to create a dynasty to rule England ended in only 3 generations, that sometimes you'd wander why historians don't find something better to study.

Well, I'm glad they don't, because even though there are books constantly published peddling the same old same old, there are also, wonderfully, books published which challenge how we think
Julie Ferguson
Aug 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I both read and write history, so I inhaled this 560-page book (ARC) that opens with Owen Tudor, a commoner, to the end of Elizabeth I's reign.
The author, de Lisle wrote through the lens of the Tudor era, a time of warring, intrigue, and intense scrabbling over succession. The early Tudor monarchs were not royal and their paranoia of losing their thrones drove everything they did—from marriages and divorces, to politics and religion. It was a violent, cruel time.
Many books on the subject have l
Gilda Felt
Nov 22, 2013 rated it it was ok
This Tudor historian should probably stick to what she knows best, rather than wade into areas she hasn't researched well. Perhaps the fact that it's Richard III's picture on the cover, instead of Edward VI's, should have been my first clue, but I was still shocked to find that the author's work was heavy on supposition when it came to her take on the king whose throne was usurped. What can't possibly be known either way is often stated as fact when it backs up her notions about history and she ...more
Louis Skye
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For anyone with a love of Tudor history, this book is a delight. Leanda de Lisle has exhaustively researched the Tudor family and written a book that is complex, without being confusing, and packed with details that transport you back in time.
I loved de Lisle's first book on the Grey sisters and couldn't wait to read more of her work. De Lisle has a captivating writing style that brings the era alive and weaves in the intrigues of the royal court.
Reading her book is like going on an epic adven
Margaret Sankey
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most surveys of the Tudor period try to be neutral, or they have a bent of some kind (pro-Richard III or anti, leaning towards Katherine of Aragon or Anne Boleyn), but de Lisle attempts to find sympathetic motivations for *everyone*, usually that they were just trying to survive or promote their kids, or that (given the wide dispersion of royal blood) they genuinely thought they were entitled to be in charge. There's nothing really new here, just an assemblage of all of the most charitable readi ...more
May 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well written, fact filled, horrifying book about a lot of not very nice people. There were six Tudors who sat on the throne if you count poor, disputed Jane, and the damage they did to their little kingdom was immense. The obsession with power, the fear of losing it, and the sheer ego involved in this pursuit make for an interesting, if fatiguing read. Heads do roll.
Christopher Riley
A thoroughly enjoyable book.

A period I personally, don’t always find the most interesting was made exciting and informative. De Lisle managed to change my opinion on virtually all of the Tudor monarchs and, made me want to learn more about the fringe characters that had such an impact on 16th century England.

A book well worth reading for anyone who has even a passing interest in the Tudor monarchs as it doesn’t bombard you with titles and boring politics. A vibrant book full of human details, f
Dec 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-books
A fascinating family history with sharp characterization and political analysis that also reads with all the exuberance of a novel. I loved it.
Mar 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book takes a look not just at King Henry VII onward, but rather traces the Tudor blood lines back a few more generations. For a book going over so many generations, this easily could have been boring. Yet I got so swept away in the battles and drama at one point, I found it hard to put down!

It gave me a great introduction to some important historical figures from the Tudor background. I better understand the angst and blood that was shed as England's different factions fought for the thron
Sarah Bryson
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you only ever read one book on the history of the Tudor family then this is the book to read. I have been waiting eagerly to read De Lisle’s book for some time now and when I was finally able to pick it up I could not put it down! (I read all five hundred and thirty nine pages in just five days… it was so good that I didn’t want to put the book down!)

Many books that look at the one hundred and eighteen year rule of the Tudors start quite naturally at the Battle of Bosworth where Henry Tudor
Sarah -  All The Book Blog Names Are Taken
How refreshing to read about the Tudors from their true beginnings, and not simply Henry VIII's reign and beyond. There was so much I never knew about the family prior to Henry VII defeating Richard III at Bosworth, and I do consider myself fairly well-read on all things Tudor.

I was hesitant at first to read this however, because I've read previous books by de Lisle and found them to be rather slow moving. Not so here, I couldn't put it down even as her subject moved from Henry VII into familiar
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014reviews
Leanda de Lisle's Tudor: The Story of England's Most Notorious Royal Family was a fascinating read. It opens with a queen (Catherine of Valois, the widow of Henry V) marrying a Welsh squire (Owen Tudor); it ends with James VI of Scotland inheriting the throne of England and becoming James I of England. It covers almost (but not quite) two hundred years of English history. Henry VII. Henry VIII. Edward VI. Jane Grey. Bloody Mary. Queen Elizabeth. James I. Not to mention Mary, Queen of Scots. It f ...more
Helene Harrison
ISBN? – 9780701185886

Publishing? - Chatto & Windus 2013 (first published 2013)

General Subject/s? - History / Tudors / Biography / Politics

General Analysis? - An excellent book, more biography than history, but nevertheless it gives an insight into the personalities, both royal and servant, that enhanced the Tudor dynasty, from its humble beginnings to its fantastic end. Excellently researched and with an extensive bibliography. Truly fantastic. I'm tempted to call it a Tudor bible!

Recommend? – Y
Kayla Dedik
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I was dubious about tacking "yet another Tudor book" but I am glad I did. This book offered fresh perspectives on the oft told histories and cleared up many common assumptions about the Tudors. Lisle examined lesser known players in the Tudor family who actually influenced a great deal of events (esp. Re: the succession). Most compelling perhaps is the way Lisle analyzes actions and events by examining the past in the context of the actual time period, rather than looking at everything through t ...more
Victoria Johnston
I won this book in a competition on site. Loved it!

It was quite interesting to actually read a book about The Tudors that focused solely on the family ties rather than the different reigns of the dynasty. Very well written book, just the right length to keep the reader interested and was clearly researched thoroughly by the author.

Was very interested to read about some of the lesser known Tudors such as Margaret Douglas and Arbella Stuart. The book was very nicely bookended also as it started w
Kathy Rakow
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just re-listened to this on Audible, and felt compelled to say that for me, this is one of the best on the Tudors that I have read. Starting with Owen Tudor and Catherine of Valois (a personal favorite of mine), and ending with James VI/I it includes many more characters than lesser known to the casual history fan. I especially liked finding out about Henry VIII’s sister Margaret, a very important figure to the succession and a person I’d like to study more. A great book that goes beyond Henry ...more
Sarah Dauterive
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Fantastic book that I will be sure to buy for my library. I recently read a similar historical non-fiction book studying the same time period that was half the length as this one. I really, really struggled with it and thought I would with Tudor as well. Not so! I devoured this book like it was a historical fiction that I love to read. I'm going to check out the other books by this author right now!
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Leanda de Lisle is the author of bestselling Tudor and Stuart history praised for meticulous research as well as strong narratives. She has a Masters degree in history from Oxford University. TUDOR, her biography of the Tudor family 1437-1603, was a top ten Sunday Times best seller, BBC History book of the year, Daily Telegraph book of the year, and History Today book of the year. THE SISTERS WHO ...more

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It’s time to turn your attention to something dark and twisty, to a story (or two or three) so engaging, the pages just fly by. In short, it’s...
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“Similarly, while the Tudors are often recalled in terms of a historical enmity with Spain, this too is history written with hindsight: the Armada did not take place until a generation after Elizabeth became queen.” 1 likes
“The tension in the room had reached breaking point when at last he swung his axe. It smashed into Mary’s head. Some thought they heard a cry. A second stroke almost severed the neck. The axe was then used like a cleaver on a chicken wing to cut it free. As the head fell the executioner raised it up, with the shout ‘God save the queen’, only to have it drop out of his hand leaving him clutching her chestnut wig. It had been severed from its moorings by the botched strike of the axe. As Shrewsbury wept, the executioners began to tear the dead queen’s stockings from her corpse. In was a perk of the job to be allowed to keep or sell their victim’s clothes. Their action disturbed her little dog, hidden under her skirts. Covered with blood, it rushed up and down the body, howling plaintively.16” 0 likes
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